People have breakthroughs in their lives. They suddenly figure out some new higher truth - in the narrators case, his was how to take control of his life and separate what was important to him from what everybody else told him was important, plus how not to be a 'p*ssy' - when we have those breakthrough's, it's explosive - there's a new energy that we haven't had before, but like with any resource we burn through it if we don't carefully maintain it. So, whatever positive or life-changing behaviors or habits or outlooks we develop slowly seep away as the initial burst of energy dissipates...then we fall back into our old comfortable ways- right or wrong, good or bad. Illuminating stages of the human condition is what Chuck Palahniuk does best and in 'Fight Club 2' he showcases it (I think?)
I sent him some questions and he answered back. What do Angela Lansbury, the deliciousness of Ativan and 'Charlotte's Web' spoilers have in common?...Go ahead, Space Monkey, read on.
What got you started on 'Fight Club 2'?
FC2 came about, like so many societal ills, due to peer pressure from unsavory companions. A plotting thriller writer, Chelsea Cain, threw a dinner party that would've made Agatha Christie proud. She invited Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue Deconnick and Brian Michael Bendis, and their ruse was to impress upon me how easy and fun it would be to write a comic. Remember the scene in The Manchurian Candidate where the evil agents program the sleeper assassin? It was like that. Chelsea's husband, Marc Mohan, must've put psychoactive drugs in the food because I found myself swayed by their scheme. Pray that Angela Lansbury never falls within my crosshairs.
Some might argue that 'Fight Club' was your magnum opus, a life accomplishment. Why do a sequel?
Duh. I'm still alive?
What was going on in your life, or in your mind, that explains the themes in 'Fight Club 2?'
Oh, you really want your pound of flesh, don't you? Well, here goes. First I hate that I have to take Ativan to drive a car. In one twelve-month period three other drivers slammed into my car, totaling each of my successive cars. Physically I was fine, but mentally my confidence was totaled, too. Now, on my fourth new car -- yeah, my insurance company loves me because two of the three at-fault drivers were uninsured, the third drove for a huge corporation -- I can only drive if I take an anti-panic pill. Yes, even after a year of talk therapy. Second, I hate that I take a sleeping pill, but I'm too lazy to just fall asleep naturally. Does that make sense, even? I'm too lazy to sleep? So now my life seems to be pills, pills, pills and that's just the tip of the ice berg I'm exploring in FC2. But enough about me... what do you look like naked?
How do you see 'Fight Club 2' fitting in with the culture that you write about in it. Are you speaking to it or against it?
Please, don't expect me to fix anything. I subscribe to Foucault's idea that only play allows us to create new ways of being that aren't extensions of or reactions to the past. Deliberately trying to fix a condition only perpetuates it and worsens it. Finding fun can truly save us. My favorite analogy is hats. Beavers were going extinct because they were skinned for hats, but their species wasn't saved by protesting for beaver rights. Beavers prosper, today, because silk hats became the fashion. Style saved the beaver.
Do you think there is a redemptive quality of Fiction. Do you see your books as offering an alternative to the dark reality that some might detect?
Accept the fact that reading is a solitary pursuit, thus readers enjoy a solitary protagonist, but one who finds a way back to community. Eventually the reader must rejoin a community, but the isolation of a book is an opportunity to exist inside a new social model. That and it's paramount that blah, blah, blah. Shoot me.
I've read critics who say that your books are bound to make people feel uncomfortable. Do you agree?
First, I'd offer anyone uncomfortable some Ativan. It really is delicious, and not in the least bit habit forming. Heh, heh, heh. Then I'd read to them from the first draft of E.B.White's classic "Charlotte's Web," where Charlotte and the pig take their relationship too far. Define "uncomfortable".
How do you normally feel at the end of a project? Are you disgusted with what you've done? Pleased?
There's an old punk rock phrase: "Don't touch the brakes until you hear glass breaking." Unless I'm deeply mortified and filled with regret I haven't gone far enough. This applies to both writing and sex.
So, what is after 'Fight Club 2'?
Must there always be a 'next' thing? That question kills writers. But in my case the next project is "Bait: Off-Color Stories for You to Color." It's a hardbound, beautifully bound collection of eight short stories, illustrated by some of the biggest talents in comics, most of them people who did FC2 variant covers I loved. The stories are already outrageous, but the illustrations take them too far. Best of all, it's a coloring book so reader actually collaborate by finishing the pictures. It's a children's idiom used to present adult material. Due out October 25th. Perfect for holiday gift giving. Color it yourself, or let your loved one do it. As my editor, Scott Allie, says, "This book cannot be too frivolous!"
I think it's awesome that you crowd-funded the soon to be a major motion picture “Lullaby'... Are any of your novels 'un-filmable'?
There are big doings here that I'm legally disallowed to discuss, but bright minds all over the world are quietly working on my shit. My challenge is always to thwart their dreams by presenting stories only books can tell. Hey, wait... Was Charlotte the farm girl or the spider? Didn't the spider die at the end?!? Now that's fucked up.
*The graphic novel of 'Fight Club 2' will be available at all fine retailers on June 28th
**'Fight Club 2' cover by the amazingly talented Davis Mack.
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